How To Go It Solo at a Networking Event

Networking occurs at practically every event we attend, whether it’s on the schedule or not.  As the featured speaker at the October WIC General Meeting, I thought I’d share some of my tips to help with your pre-meeting preparation.  These tips are most helpful if you’re attending an in-person networking event solo.

Two proven tactics that I’ve seen help solo attendees again and again:

1. Find the event’s host(s) or any of its sponsors and introduce yourself to them with the same warm smile and handshake as above, and then thank them for hosting and/or sponsoring the event.  Remember, these people are hosting the event and they want everyone there to have a good experience — just as you would if you were hosting a party or event.  You can then ask about their connection to or role with the group/event and find out what their goals are for the evening.  You might be surprised by what you learn, and maybe you’ll discover a few ways you might help them.

networking_now_what-cmc_coverIf nothing comes to mind immediately, ask for a business card and make a note of their need on the back of it.  Let them know you’ll be in touch if you come across whatever it is they need.  At that point, explain what made you attend the event and your own goals for attending, and just wait and see what happens next.  More often than not, they just might try to help you connect with other folks at the event or will follow up with you via e-mail or phone.

2. Get in line for something, whether it’s food, drink or the bathroom (seriously).  Use that time to ask the person of your choice (in front or behind you) if she’s connected to the event or a member, or know anyone who was nominated.  Or if it’s someone you know slightly, try one of my all-time favorite openers, which anyone can answer: Find out what they’re working on.  For example, “Hi Britney, good to see you.  Sandy Jones-Kaminski from Bella Domain Media (in case she looks like she doesn’t remember you); we met at the spring luncheon.  How are things going?  (Let them answer.)  So what are you working on these days?  Anything exciting?”

Sometimes the answer is something fun, like planning a trip to Australia.  Or it might even be something you can assist them with by connecting them to a resource.  If there aren’t any lines at the event, just look around for another solo person and practice any of the techniques mentioned above.  I’ve met some of my favorite contacts that way, and they now make it a practice to do the same thing whenever they attend any type of event.

Hope you can give these tips a try either at the Oct 17th meeting or at any other upcoming event where you have to go it alone.  Happy Networking!

Editor’s Note: Sandy is leading an interactive session on this topic at the October 17 General Meeting — you can register at http://tinyurl.com/d3bbjnf

sandy@belladomain.com' About Sandy Jones-Kaminski

Sandy Jones-Kaminski is the principal consultant and Chief Connecting Officer of Bella Domain Media, which produces engaging and share-worthy content for events, social media and integrated marketing that drives new business. She's also the author of I'm at a Networking Event--Now What???, the #1 pick on the Inc.com 2010 Business Book Wish List and creator of the DIY LinkedIn Profile Audit Checklist.

As a consultant, Sandy advises her clients on ways to leverage LinkedIn to grow their business, polish their personal brand to attract new clients and how to develop an effective professional networking strategy. She believes that beyond self-promotion, networking builds community and creates healthier and stronger business environments. She often speaks publicly offering webinars, keynotes, workshops and boot camps.You can reach her via belladomain.com or start a conversation with her on Twitter: @sandyjk

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